This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
This Saturday slate is one of the strangest of the season, as there's numerous circumstances that makes this much more different than most. With only four games on the main FanDuel slate, there are a few things to take into consideration: the first, of course, is injuries, as Anthony Davis, John Wall, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid all come into this schedule with question marks. That's four of the top-five-priced players on this slate and it will be crucial to keep an eye on these situations to either use these studs or find values due to their absences.
There are also two teams I'm going to completely avoid, as the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic have impossible matchups against the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz. That will knock out 25 percent of the field and make a confusing slate a little less difficult.
Bradley Beal, WSH vs. PHI ($7,000): The shooting guard position is extremely tough on this slate, so selecting someone with Beal's usage is hard to pass up. It's the minutes load that I like most, as he's played at least 34 minutes in six-straight games, while posting elite fantasy numbers in that span. In fact, he is averaging 34 fantasy points per game in that stretch, coming off a 45-point fantasy outing in his most recent game. The matchup is nothing to be scared of either, as the Sixers have an average defense, at best.
T.J. McConnell, PHI at WSH ($5,400): McConnell has taken over starting point guard duties recently and he's playing some of the best ball of his career. Since taking over, he has at least 24 fantasy points in six-straight games and is regularly flirting with triple-doubles. That's what makes him so reliable, as he's one of few guards who does not rely on scoring to provide fantasy production. The matchup against Washington is not one to fear either, as they've been a below-average defense for the majority of the season. While it's not necessarily fantasy relevant, the Sixers are 6-1 since implementing McConnell into the starting five, so he should continue to see large minutes given the success.
Tony Parker, SAN at PHX ($4,800): Parker was rested on December 23 and he's been a different player since. In fact, Parker has at least 23 fantasy points in eight of his last nine games, while averaging nearly 30 fantasy points a game in that span. That's not evident through his price either, as a $4,800 point guard is usually a role player who has a ceiling of 25 fantasy points. The icing on the cake here is the matchup, as he faces a Suns defense that allows the fourth-most fantasy points to point guards this season. While Parker is unlikely to surpass 40 fantasy points, he's one of the best bets to exceed 5X value, which is just what you need for tournament lineups.
Kawhi Leonard, SAN at PHX ($8,700): With Jimmy Butler questionable, Leonard is easily the best small forward option on this small slate. It's the matchup and his recent form that makes him most intriguing, as he's in a great spot to do some serious damage. Leonard has at least 40 fantasy points in four of his last five games and he seems to be recapturing his early season form. The matchup is what I like most though, as he faces a Suns defense that ranks 29th in points allowed. A 40-point floor at just $8,700 is great in itself, but it makes him an even more reliable option in such a limited slate.
Ersan Ilyasova, PHI at WSH ($5,900): Ilyasova has quietly been one of the most reliable power forwards in the league recently and he's stepping into a heck of an opportunity in this game. With 25 fantasy points or more in seven of his last eight games, he's a near guarantee for 5X value. It's this situation that makes him especially enticing though, as he sees a major increase in production with Embiid out of the lineup. In fact, Ilyasova is averaging 35 fantasy points per game in the last four games Embiid sat out. This matchup is great too, as the Wizards rank 22nd in fantasy points allowed to power forwards this season.
Derrick Favors, UTA vs. ORL ($4,700): Favors is slowly recovering from a knee injury, but he's finally starting to find his form and play a full complement of minutes. Not only is he playing close to 30 minutes a game recently, but he's also seen an increase in fantasy production nearly every time he takes the floor. It's the price that makes him most attractive, though, as Favors is a $7,000 player when he's right. The only concern here is the fact that this is a back-to-back set, but Favors should still be looking at around 25 minutes, which is plenty of time for a player of his caliber to reach value.
Rudy Gobert, UTA vs. ORL ($7,500): Gobert is the only reliable center on this slate and getting that sort of consistency into your lineup is key in a four-game schedule. Not only is he averaging over 33 fantasy points per game for the season, he's playing monster minutes every night. This is a matchup they'll need him to play big minutes too, as Orlando typically plays two big men at all times. In addition, the Magic rank 20th in fantasy points allowed to centers.
Jahlil Okafor, PHI at WSH ($4,400): This play looks crazy on the surface with Okafor not playing in four-straight games, but the absence of Embiid could garner him some big minutes. Not only does Embiid swallow up about 30 minutes a game at center, he is one of the league leaders in usage. With Embiid sitting this game out due to rest, that means someone will need to fill that void and this would be the perfect opportunity for Philly to showcase Okafor for a potential trade. While it's unlikely he'll take all 30 of the center minutes, a 20-minute game seems plausible and Okafor should approach a double-double with those minutes. This is a play you'll have to do some research on prior to tip-off to see if he'll start or feature, but he's a sneaky talented player at an extremely affordable price.